A long, LONG time ago, while still studying at the arts academy, I developed a strong fascination for bulls, goats, deers, capricorns, any kind of horned animal or with some kind of antlers, big or small. It's hard to pinpoint where exactly the fascination comes from, but it's not an uncommon image in the history of art. We only have to think of the prehistoric rock art, also known under the more scientific name of Petroglyphs: drawings or carvings on rock, made by a member of a prehistoric people.
When I first read about these drawings as a young child, I was immediately captivated by the boldness and directness of these images. So strong, so effective, not a trace of doubt, the artist then intuitively knew what he (or she?) had to do, where to start carving each line; and where and when to stop. Made with the most basic of tools and materials, and without having the luxury of being able to work by proper daylight, whilst working in a deep dark cave. It's that spirit of boldness and directness I try to strive for, to achieve in my own drawings - probably the fuel for my lifelong fascination for pen en ink and a strong desire to scratch and scrape on the surface of the paper, as if I were indeed carving into rock. Well, perpaps one day, I should - but that's for later.
Another one of my earlier influences was the work of Israeli sculptor and painter Menashe Kadishman (1932-2015), who, in his youth, worked as a shepherd on Kibbutz Ma'ayan Baruch. According to Wikipedia, 'This experience with nature, sheep and shepherding had a significant impact on his later artistic work and career. The first major appearance of sheep in his work was in the 1978 Venice Biennale, where Kadishman presented a flock of colored live sheep as living art. In 1995, he began painting portraits of sheep by the hundreds, and even thousands, each one different from the next. These instantly-recognizable sheep portraits soon became his artistic "trademark'''
|'The Sacrifice of Isaac' by Mensahe Kadeshman (1985-1987)|
I remember that I visited a bookstore here in Rotterdam and found myself in the art books section, which was not unusual, although I seldom bought one as they were (and still are) bloody expensive. But, a small booklet caught my eye. On the front it had a picture of the massive iron cast sculpture of a ram's head. The image got to me and I was hooked. Hooked on the powerful image of this horned animal's head. Turns out, it was one of the many huge iron sculptures from his series 'The Sacrifice of Isaac' (approximately 1985-1987), which adresses the violence of society and the destructive forces within the so-called civilized world. It made a huge impression on me and I remember, I spent a great deal of my time working out how to draw sheep's faces and bull's heads. More so, I remember the frustration of the result being a far cry from how I imagined it to be (sorry, no pictures available, and even if I had them, I doubt I'd show them here).
That was a long time ago. I moved out of the arts, and then, after a long time, got back into them. But up till recently, no sign of the Horned Ones. Not a single trace. Up till a couple of weeks ago. There they were, making their appearance, out of no where. And I can tell you, their presence was as powerful as it was back then. And this time, no struggling on how to draw them, capturing them turned out to be whole lot easier now. Perhaps the Horned Beasts are a bit tamer this time? Or is it only make believe and are they fooling me and being as illusive as ever. Well, only time will tell as I am determined to follow their call and explore their presence and see where they will guide me and my work.